Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Don't Like Sosa? Put a Cork In It!

News Item: Sammy Sosa becomes the first National Leaguer to hit 40 home runs in six consecutive seasons. Sosa had been tied with Ralph Kiner (1947-1951) and Duke Snider (1953-1957) for the N.L. record with five straight years of at least 40 homers.


1    Sammy Sosa               1998-03    6

T2 Ralph Kiner 1947-51 5
T2 Duke Snider 1953-57 5
T4 Ernie Banks 1957-60 4
T4 Barry Bonds 2000-03 4
T5 Ted Kluszewski 1953-55 3
T5 Eddie Mathews 1953-55 3
T5 Vinny Castilla 1996-98 3
T5 Andres Galarraga 1996-98 3
T10 Chuck Klein 1929-30 2
T10 Johnny Mize 1947-48 2
T10 Willie Mays 1954-55 2
T10 Willie Mays 1961-62 2
T10 Hank Aaron 1962-63 2
T10 Willie Mays 1964-65 2
T10 George Foster 1977-78 2
T10 Mike Schmidt 1979-80 2
T10 Barry Bonds 1996-97 2
T10 Greg Vaughn 1998-99 2
T10 Mark McGwire 1998-99 2
T10 Vladimir Guerrero 1999-00 2
T10 Jeff Bagwell 1999-00 2
T10 Todd Helton 2000-01 2
T10 Shawn Green 2001-02 2

Babe Ruth (1926-1932) holds the major league with seven years in a row. Alex Rodriguez also has a current streak of six straight seasons with 40.


1    Babe Ruth                1926-32    7   

T2 Alex Rodriguez 1998-03 6
T2 Sammy Sosa 1998-03 6
T4 Ralph Kiner 1947-51 5
T4 Duke Snider 1953-57 5
T4 Ken Griffey Jr. 1996-00 5
T7 Ernie Banks 1957-60 4
T7 Harmon Killebrew 1961-64 4
T7 Mark McGwire 1996-99 4
T7 Barry Bonds 2000-03 4

Slammin' Sammy and Barry Bonds are tied for second place in the N.L. circuit for the most 40 home run seasons with seven, one behind Hank Aaron.


1    Hank Aaron                8

T2 Sammy Sosa 7
T2 Barry Bonds 7
4 Willie Mays 6
T5 Ralph Kiner 5
T5 Duke Snider 5
T5 Ernie Banks 5
8 Eddie Mathews 4
T9 Andres Galarraga 3
T9 Johnny Mize 3
T9 Mike Schmidt 3
T9 Vinny Castilla 3
T9 Jeff Bagwell 3
T9 Ted Kluszewski 3

Sosa and Bonds are tied with Ken Griffey Jr. with the most 40-HR seasons in major league history, trailing just Harmon Killebrew, Aaron, and Ruth.


1    Babe Ruth                11   

T2 Hank Aaron 8
T2 Harmon Killebrew 8
T4 Ken Griffey Jr. 7
T4 Barry Bonds 7
T4 Sammy Sosa 7
T7 Willie Mays 6
T7 Mark McGwire 6
T7 Alex Rodriguez 6
T10 Ralph Kiner 5
T10 Juan Gonzalez 5
T10 Lou Gehrig 5
T10 Jimmie Foxx 5
T10 Duke Snider 5
T10 Ernie Banks 5
T10 Frank Thomas 5
T10 Rafael Palmeiro 5

The Chicago Cub great also reached the century mark in RBI in 2003, becoming the first National Leaguer in history to drive in 100 runs nine consecutive seasons.


1    Sammy Sosa               1995-03    9

T2 Mel Ott 1929-36 8
T2 Willie Mays 1959-66 8
T2 Chipper Jones 1996-03 8
5 Gil Hodges 1949-55 7
T6 Jim Bottomley 1924-29 6
T6 Bill Terry 1927-32 6
T6 Joe Medwick 1934-39 6
T6 Johnny Mize 1937-42 6
T6 Jeff Bagwell 1996-01 6
T6 Jeff Kent 1997-02 6

Sosa tied Albert Belle and Rafael Palmeiro for fourth place on the all-time major league list.


T1   Lou Gehrig               1926-38   13   

T1 Jimmie Foxx 1929-41 13
3 Al Simmons 1924-34 11
T4 Albert Belle 1992-00 9
T4 Sammy Sosa 1995-03 9
T4 Rafael Palmeiro 1995-03 9
T5 Babe Ruth 1926-33 8
T5 Mel Ott 1929-36 8
T5 Willie Mays 1959-66 8
T5 Frank Thomas 1991-98 8
T5 Chipper Jones 1996-03 8

In addition to the above milestones, Sosa passed Mickey Mantle for tenth place on the all-time HR list.

MODERN (1900-)

HOME RUNS                         HR

1 Hank Aaron 755
2 Babe Ruth 714
3 Willie Mays 660
4 Barry Bonds 658
5 Frank Robinson 586
6 Mark McGwire 583
7 Harmon Killebrew 573
8 Reggie Jackson 563
9 Mike Schmidt 548
10 Sammy Sosa 539

Sammy appears to be a good bet to pass Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, and Killebrew in 2004 and Mark McGwire and Frank Robinson in 2005.

According to, Sosa has a 26.2% probability of hitting 756 HR. Only A-Rod (37.5%) and Bonds (28.0%) have a better shot at surpassing Aaron.

Finally, Sosa's most significant achievement of all may have been passing the Bambino and setting the major league record for HR over a 10 year span with 469. The top ten rankings are the exclusive domain of Sosa, Ruth, and Bonds.


1    Sammy Sosa               1994-03   469

2 Babe Ruth 1920-29 467
T3 Babe Ruth 1921-30 462
T3 Sammy Sosa 1993-02 462
5 Babe Ruth 1923-32 455
6 Babe Ruth 1919-28 450
7 Babe Ruth 1922-31 449
8 Babe Ruth 1924-33 448
9 Barry Bonds 1993-02 437
10 Barry Bonds 1994-03 436

Courtesy of Lee Sinins, Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia.

Given the fact that Sosa hit only 25 HR in 1994, he stands an excellent chance of setting the record again next year. Another 40 HR campaign would give Sammy 484 over the 1995-2004 period, an average of more than 48 per season for ten consecutive years. I don't think there is anything corky, I mean quirky, about that.

Postseason special: Check back during the week for a couple of Rich's Weekday Baseball BEAT articles.

Until then,

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT

Saturday, September 20, 2003
Keeping Up With Jones

News Item: Chipper Jones has 102 RBI this year, extending his run of 100 RBI seasons to eight years--tied for the longest streak in National League history. (Courtesy of No Pepper.)

MODERN (1900-)
RBI >= 100

T1   Mel Ott                  1929-36    8   

T1 Willie Mays 1959-66 8
T1 Sammy Sosa 1995-02 8
T1 Chipper Jones 1996-03 8
5 Gil Hodges 1949-55 7
T6 Jim Bottomley 1924-29 6
T6 Bill Terry 1927-32 6
T6 Joe Medwick 1934-39 6
T6 Johnny Mize 1937-42 6
T6 Jeff Bagwell 1996-01 6
T6 Jeff Kent 1997-02 6

Sammy Sosa has 97 RBI through Saturday. If Sosa drives in three more runs this year, he will extend his current streak of 100 RBI seasons to nine--passing Jones as well as Mel Ott and Willie Mays in the process. Jeff Kent (with 91 RBI) will need a big final week to prolong his streak.

Even if Sammy hits the century mark this year, he will still trail Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Al Simmons on the all-time list.

MODERN (1900-)
RBI >= 100

T1   Lou Gehrig               1926-38   13   

T1 Jimmie Foxx 1929-41 13
3 Al Simmons 1924-34 11
T4 Albert Belle 1992-00 9
T4 Rafael Palmeiro 1995-03 9
T6 Babe Ruth 1926-33 8
T6 Mel Ott 1929-36 8
T6 Willie Mays 1959-66 8
T6 Frank Thomas 1991-98 8
T6 Sammy Sosa 1995-02 8
T6 Chipper Jones 1996-03 8

Rafael Palmeiro recently increased his current streak of 100 RBI seasons to nine, vaulting into a fourth place tie with Albert Belle. Interestingly, all of the players on the above list who are eligible have been voted into the Hall of Fame.

Along with teammate Gary Sheffield, Larry "Chipper" Jones also stands a good chance of reaching the .300 BA, .400 OBP, and .500 SLG trifecta for the sixth consecutive season. Sheffield is a virtual lock at .330/.422/.601, while Jones (.301/.399/.510) is hovering near each of the magic marks.

MODERN (1900-)
AVERAGE >= .300, OBA >= .400, SLG >= .500
MIN 3.1 PA/G

1    Stan Musial              1948-55    8   

2 Rogers Hornsby 1920-25 6
T3 Paul Waner 1926-30 5
T3 Hack Wilson 1926-30 5
T3 Johnny Mize 1937-41 5
T3 Gary Sheffield 1998-02 5
T3 Chipper Jones 1998-02 5
T8 Honus Wagner 1903-05 3
T8 Jack Fournier 1923-25 3
T8 Rogers Hornsby 1927-29 3
T8 Mel Ott 1934-36 3
T8 Jackie Robinson 1949-51 3
T8 Duke Snider 1953-55 3
T8 Larry Walker 1997-99 3
T8 Jeff Bagwell 1998-00 3
T8 Brian Giles 1999-01 3
T8 Barry Bonds 2000-02 3
T8 Todd Helton 2000-02 3

Barry Bonds (.341/.533/.758) and Todd Helton (.353/.452/.622) are in the midst of enjoying their fourth consecutive campaigns of .300/.400/.500.

Jones and Sheffield also rank in the top ten in major league history. Manny Ramirez is working on four straight and will undoubtedly make it five at the conclusion of 2003 (.324/.427/.583), joining a group of Ty Cobb, Paul Waner, Hack Wilson, Foxx, Johnny Mize, and Mickey Mantle.

MODERN (1900-)
AVERAGE >= .300, OBA >= .400, SLG >= .500
MIN 3.1 PA/G

1    Lou Gehrig               1926-37   12   

T2 Babe Ruth 1926-33 8
T2 Stan Musial 1948-55 8
T4 Harry Heilmann 1921-27 7
T4 Frank Thomas 1991-97 7
T4 Edgar Martinez 1995-01 7
T7 Babe Ruth 1919-24 6
T7 Rogers Hornsby 1920-25 6
T7 Tris Speaker 1920-25 6
T10 Ty Cobb 1909-13 5
T10 Paul Waner 1926-30 5
T10 Hack Wilson 1926-30 5
T10 Jimmie Foxx 1932-36 5
T10 Johnny Mize 1937-41 5
T10 Mickey Mantle 1954-58 5
T10 Chipper Jones 1998-02 5
T10 Gary Sheffield 1998-02 5

Although Lou Gehrig may have been more well known for his consecutive games streak, the Iron Horse is number one all time in consecutive seasons with 100 or more RBI as well as consecutive seasons with .300 BA, .400 OBP, and .500 SLG--a remarkable combination of durability and productivity. Once again, all of the players on the above list who are eligible have been voted into the HOF.

Although broken last year, Jones also has one of the longest streaks in N.L. history of hitting .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI--a combination of feats Bill James called "a Hall of Fame season" (Gus Bell entry, page 761, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract). Jones only trails Mike Piazza, Vladimir Guerrero, and Helton for the longest run in league history. Piazza's streak ran out in 2000, while Guerrero will terminate his record this year due to a shortfall in HR (25) and RBI (79). Helton, on the other hand, has already assured himself of continuing his string (which I have included in the list below) by virtue of his .353 BA, 31 HR, and 115 RBI.

MODERN (1900-)
RBI >= 100, AVERAGE >= .300, HR >= 30

T1   Mike Piazza              1996-00    5   

T1 Vladimir Guerrero 1998-02 5
T1 Todd Helton 1999-03 5
T4 Hack Wilson 1927-30 4
T4 Chuck Klein 1929-32 4
T4 Ted Kluszewski 1953-56 4
T4 Chipper Jones 1998-01 4
T8 Mel Ott 1934-36 3
T8 Duke Snider 1953-55 3
T8 Stan Musial 1953-55 3
T8 Hank Aaron 1961-63 3
T8 Willie Mays 1961-63 3
T8 Andres Galarraga 1996-98 3
T8 Vinny Castilla 1996-98 3
T8 Jeff Bagwell 1998-00 3
T8 Gary Sheffield 1999-01 3
T8 Barry Bonds 2000-02 3

Despite the fact that Bonds is leading the league in OBP (.533), SLG (.758), OPS (1.291), HR (44), and BB (145), he is unlikely to maintain his .300-30-100 streak, given his current RBI total of 87.


1    Barry Bonds                 768   

2 Edgar Martinez 490
3 Jim Thome 469
4 Manny Ramirez 463
5 Jeff Bagwell 462
6 Gary Sheffield 419
7 Jason Giambi 394
8 Frank Thomas 377
9 Chipper Jones 373
10 Mike Piazza 360


1    Barry Bonds                 712   

2 Mike Piazza 432
3 Alex Rodriguez 423
4 Edgar Martinez 411
5 Manny Ramirez 401
6 Jeff Bagwell 367
7 Jim Thome 358
8 Chipper Jones 350
9 Bernie Williams 347
10 Gary Sheffield 343

Source: Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia

Chipper Jones has been one of the top ten offensive players in baseball since his first full season in 1995. Through 2002, Jones ranks ninth in runs created above average and eighth in runs created above position. Only Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Jim Thome, Ramirez, and Jeff Bagwell are ahead of Jones in both categories during this period.

The bottom line is that Mr. Jones has been and continues to be a Blue Chipper investment for the Atlanta Braves.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT

Sunday, September 14, 2003
Walker Faces Tough Hurdle

News Item: Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle questions Larry Walker's physical condition and says the right fielder needs to decide in the off-season if he even wants to continue playing.

Walker, who has two years and $26 million left on his contract, is having his first subpar season as a Rockie and perhaps the worst year of his career. Does Hurdle really want Walker to retire or is he just trying to motivate his slugger?

My guess is if Hurdle wants Walker to retire it's because he would like to free up his salary to spend on younger, more productive players. At the same time, I recognize Hurdle's comments may be nothing more than a ploy to get the Canadian-born outfielder to lose weight and get into better shape for the 2004 campaign.

There is no doubt that Walker has been a great player offensively and defensively since he broke into the major leagues in 1989. Larry has won three batting titles (1998, 1999, 2001), tied for the eighth most in the history of the National League. The man known as "Walk" is also a seven-time Gold Glove winner, tied for the sixth most by an outfielder in N.L. annals.

Walker won the MVP Award in 1997, a year that ranks among the best statistically in National League history. He became the first N.L. player to total 400 bases since 1959, posted what was at the time the fifth highest slugging percentage (.720), and was the third player to hit 40 HR with 30 SB and 200 hits in a single season. Walker also captured three legs of The Quad and was four hits and 10 RBI shy of the league's first Triple Crown in 60 years.

In 1999, Walker led the league in batting average, on base average, and slugging average--the first player to win the so-called percentage triple crown since 1980. His last batting title is only two years removed, and his stats last year (.338/.421/.602) stacked up with nearly everyone not named Barry Bonds.

Over his full career, Walker has put together some of the best rate stats among right fielders in baseball history.

OBP                             OBP    

1 Babe Ruth .474
2 Mel Ott .414
3 Manny Ramirez .411
4 Harry Heilmann .410
5 Paul Waner .404
6 Gary Sheffield .399
7 Ross Youngs .399
8 Elmer Valo .398
9 Larry Walker .398
10 Tim Salmon .390

SLG                             SLG    

1 Babe Ruth .690
2 Manny Ramirez .599
3 Larry Walker .574
4 Juan Gonzalez .563
5 Hank Aaron .555
6 Sammy Sosa .546
7 Chuck Klein .543
8 Frank Robinson .537
9 Mel Ott .533
10 Babe Herman .532

OPS                             OPS    

1 Babe Ruth 1.164
2 Manny Ramirez 1.010
3 Larry Walker .973
4 Mel Ott .947
5 Harry Heilmann .930
6 Hank Aaron .928
7 Frank Robinson .926
8 Chuck Klein .922
9 Gary Sheffield .919
10 Babe Herman .915

Unadjusted for ballparks and era, Walker's numbers compare favorably with the best of the best (with only Babe Ruth and Manny Ramirez faring better in the area of rate stats among players categorized as RF for their careers). As shown above, Walker ranks ninth in OBP (.398), third in SLG (.574), and third in OPS (.973).

I recognize that Walker's stats are inflated due to spending two thirds of his career playing home games at Coors Field, the most hitter-friendly ballpark in major league history. As a result, a more appropriate measure may be OPS+, which adjusts for ballparks and era. Walker ranks 60th among all players in the modern era and 12th among RF in OPS+. His total of 141 means he has been 41% more productive than the average hitter over his career.

Going by Walker's numbers this year, one can no longer make the case that he is still an elite offensive force. In fact, his stats on the road this year suggest Walker has become a mediocre hitter with his main strength being the ability to get on base via walks.

Walker's 2003 Home-Road Splits:


Home 65 210 52 70 14 5 6 42 47 35 .333 .462 .533 .995
Road 67 209 28 47 9 2 7 27 41 46 .225 .365 .388 .753

Not only is Walker struggling away from Coors Field this year, but he is in the midst of a very poor second half. This combo should serve as a warning to any general manager interested in obtaining Walker's services in the off-season.

Walker's 2003 First and Second Half Splits:


Pre AS 89 292 61 86 17 7 9 54 62 52 .295 .428 .493 .921
Post AS 43 127 19 31 6 0 4 15 26 29 .244 .382 .386 .768

The trend is clearly not Walker's friend.

Hall of Fame Bound?

If Walker were to retire after this season, should he be voted into the Hall of Fame? Let's take a look at the HOF criteria as established by Bill James.

Black Ink: Batting - 24 (Average HOFer ~ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting - 113 (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting - 50.8 (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting - 151.0 (Likely HOFer > 100)

Walker falls a little short relative to the average HOFer in the Black and Gray Ink categories (partially due to the explosion in the number of teams and players in the expansion era, making it more difficult to lead the league or be among the league leaders than in the pre-expansion era). Walker is right on the mark when it comes to HOF Standards, and he exceeds by a good margin what it normally takes to be enshrined based on the HOF Monitor. Of importance, these criteria are basically absolutes and not adjusted for ballpark effects or eras.

Similar Batters

Chuck Klein (902) *
Dick Allen (887)
Albert Belle (877)
Gary Sheffield (871)
Ellis Burks (871)
Earl Averill (866) *
Frank Thomas (864)
Hank Greenberg (863) *
Johnny Mize (856) *
Edgar Martinez (855)


Without even looking at this list, I had thought all along that Walker was the modern day Chuck Klein. Like Walker, Klein benefited by playing the vast majority of his home games in an extreme hitter's ballpark known as the Baker Bowl. The fact that Klein has a plaque in Cooperstown shouldn't guarantee Walker's induction, but it probably makes the argument on his behalf somewhat stronger. Importantly, Walker has been a better defensive player and base runner than his comparables which should serve to help his cause on the margin when the time comes around for the Baseball Writers Association of America to consider his candidacy.

I don't think Walker's case is clear cut by any means. His absolute rate stats scream yes, his road and counting stats say no, and his adjusted stats say maybe. Accordingly, it is my belief that Larry needs to come back and return to his previous form for at least the final two years of his contract in order to overcome any and all hurdles in his HOF path. If he retires now or comes back and plays at a level closer to 2003 than 1997-1999, I would not be in favor of Walker's inclusion.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT

Sunday, September 07, 2003
Truth and Consequences

Don't look now but Ichiro Suzuki and Barry Bonds have the same number of TB (257) despite the fact that Suzuki has had 247 more AB.

Comment: Suzuki is a great player but an MVP candidate he's not.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Aubrey Huff ranks in the top 11 in the A.L. in BA (.316), SLG (.556), OPS (.926), H (172), 2B (45), HR (28), TB (303), and RBI ( 91)?

Comment: Too bad he plays for Tampa Bay.

Believe it or not but Adam Piatt has struck out 28 times in his last 57 AB with 0 BB.

Comment: Hey, Adam. Ever think about trying another profession?

Don't look now Aaron Gleeman but Luis Rivas leads the A.L. in runs scored with 21 over the past 20 games.

Comment: I know, small sample size.

Is it just me or is Pat Burrell killing anyone else's fantasy baseball team this year?

Comment: Dummy me. I thought .300-40-120 was going to be more like it.

Believe it or not but Scott Podsednik is on pace to become only the fourth rookie ever to hit .300 with 100 runs scored and 40 stolen bases. The other three are Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Shoeless Joe Jackson (who hit over .400 in 1911), and Jimmy Barrett (1900).

Comment: .410/.473/.627 with 9 2B, 26 R, 16 RBI, and 13 SB with 0 CS last 20 games.

Don't look now but Jason Giambi is now 3 for his last 54.

Comment: Any chance of Giambi adding a second MVP Award this year to his resume has gone down the drain.

Is it just me or do MVP voters realize that Barry Bonds has more RBI per AB than Albert Pujols?

Comment: Bonds - 82 RBI out of 340 AB (.241); Pujols - 117/516 (.227).

Don't look now but Oakland's Jermaine Dye (.149/.234/.211 with 2 HR in 46 games) is making more money this season than Eric Chavez, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito combined.

Comment: Moneyball.

Is it just me or is it more than stats that links Manny Ramirez (157 career OPS+), Dick Allen (156), Albert Belle (143), and Gary Sheffield (145)?

Comment: Ramirez has Hall of Fame stats and a Hall of Shame attitude.

Don't look now but Toronto's Josh Phelps (.510 OBP, .907 SLG) and Frank Catalanotto (.561, .824) are 1-2 in OBP and SLG in the A.L. over their past 20 games.

Comment: Some Like It Hot.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Detroit's Craig Monroe is fifth in the majors in HR vs. LHP with 13?

Comment: Monroe and another youngster, Cleveland's Jody Gerut (.303/.359/.566 with 17 HR vs. RHP), would make for one helluva outfield platoon combo.

Believe it or not but Alex Rodriguez (38.9%) has a better chance of breaking Hank Aaron's career HR record than Barry Bonds (35.8%) according to, which uses the "Favorite Toy" method developed by Bill James.

Comment: There are only four other players (Sammy Sosa, 25.4%; Jim Thome, 8.1%, Albert Pujols, 6.2%; and Andruw Jones, 1.7%) who are given any chance whatsoever of breaking the record.

Don't look now but Eric Gagne (15.45) is on pace to shatter the single-season strikeouts/9 IP record currently held by Billy Wagner (15.01 in 1999) for pitchers with 60 or more innings. Wagner incidentally holds the number one, three, and four spots all time.

Comment: Gagne is in the midst of the best season by a relief pitcher ever.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT

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